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Humanize HHS Rule Would Have Prohibited Discrimination Against Babies with Disabilities

Crossposted at National Review

Working until the last minute, the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services has published a proposed rule that would protect babies born prematurely from death — including those who survive abortion — and disabled people generally from discrimination in the health-care context. From the OCR press release:

The proposed rule…updates and clarifies existing Departmental regulations to conform with statutory protections against disability discrimination, and establishes that HHS’ regulations:

  • Protect patients, including infants born alive whose parents or guardians consent to treatment, from disability discrimination…;
  • Protect patients, including infants born alive, from unlawful denials of emergency screening or stabilizing treatment…;
  • Prohibit disability discrimination in the provision or withdrawal of life-saving or life-sustaining care;
  • Prohibit covered providers from basing certain life and death medical decisions on evaluations of the relative worth of the life of a patient with a disability, or on stereotypes or bias with respect to disability;
  • Prohibit covered providers from exerting undue influence or steering patients toward the withdrawal of life-saving or life-sustaining care, or toward the provision of life-ending services such as assisted suicide, mercy killing, or euthanasia, on the basis of disability; and
  • Require hospitals to inform a patient or the patient’s legal representative if and when a “do not resuscitate order” is entered for the patient without consent under facility regulations.

Too late! There is zero chance in hell that the Biden administration will finalize this proposal. Indeed, if anything, under the culture-of-death zealot, HHS secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, expect public policy to go in exactly the opposite direction.

I know many are relieved at the pending conclusion of the Trump chaos. But I wonder whether the babies and people with disabilities who will now not be saved — but could have been with this rule in place — would take a different view.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.
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